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Interview: Anastasia Baranova

This Friday, September 16th at 8/7c, Roberta, Murphy, Addy and the rest of the gang are back for the Season 3 premiere of the hit Syfy series ZNation.

You guessed it, more mayhem, more comedy, more action and definitely more zombies are in store for the faithful fans of the series. The Season 2 finale left us with some unanswered questions and fans are hoping that some of those questions are answered in the premiere.

Addy, played by Anastasia Baranova, has become a fan favorite not only for her toughness and tenacity, but through all of the craziness, she still maintains a hope for the survival of humanity.

The Russian born Baranova first stepped into the spotlight playing the lead character Jennifer Lauer in the Discovery Kids/NBC series Scout’s Safari. She’s also made memorable appearances in series such as Sons of Anarchy, Veronica Mars, 7th Heaven and 90210.

We sit down with Anastasia to talk about the big Season 3 premiere, what fans can look forward to with the new season and how well would she do in a zombie apocalypse!

Pop Culture Principle – After a solid first season, it seems the series really found its groove in the second season. Would you agree with that?

Anastasia Baranova – Yes, I absolutely would agree with that.

Pop Culture Principle – Looking back at the second season of Z Nation as a whole, what did you enjoy most about the season and why?

Anastasia Baranova – It’s so funny because I am shooting Season 3 right now, so I’m trying to remember what happened in Season 2, LOL! Season 2 was really great and for Addy, it was a real focusing on sort of the next phase in her life. We picked up the show sort of in the middle of the apocalypse, you have her relationship with Mack and then Murphy comes along and suddenly their lives have taken an even greater turn if that’s even possible in a zombie apocalypse. Then, cut to mental breakdown, cut to coming out of mental breakdown.

Season 2 for her was all about the mission and she really had nothing left to lose, so whatever the tough job is or the dangerous thing is, she will throw herself into it. There were just some great aspects of the season and now that I’m thinking back about the season, when we had Lucy that was a crazy adventure, the nativity thing that we did and working with the fabulous Gina Gershon. So, Season 2 for me was an absolute blast.

Pop Culture Principle – Your character Addy has changed a lot since the beginning of the series. How have you enjoyed playing a character that continues to grow on a series and also offers you challenges as an actor?

Anastasia Baranova – Yes, absolutely. I am so grateful to our writers, producers and showrunner who allow us to flush these people out. They let us make them our own or however it is that we want them. It’s a creative freedom that a lot of the time you don’t get as an actor. For me, I play Addy very consciously, it’s not arbitrary who she is.

I play her with the understanding that young women and women in general watch her and there is the opportunity to show that there is more to her than just fighting zombies. As much as the fans are having fun with Addy, they are also aware of the emotional journey and that’s speaking to them and that’s doing things for them mentally or emotionally.

Pop Culture Principle – Playing Addy on Z Nation requires a lot of physical action. How have you enjoyed the physicality of the role and do you do most of your stunts?

Anastasia Baranova – Yea, I do a lot of my stunts and it is a lot of fun. I didn’t really have a background in fighting and stunts, but you sort of learn on the job and we have a really great team of stunt coordinators. By this point, I’ve been doing it so long and I know my weapon and I basically know what my weapon can do. There is a lot, but only so much that the weapon can do and I also know how to sell it to the camera now. That whole process has been really neat and I am definitely learning some new skills!

Pop Culture Principle – Unfortunately, we lost two characters in Season 2 with the deaths of Mack and Cassandra. First, how hard was it for Addy to not only lose Mack, but to be the one to put him down?

Anastasia Baranova – That was the worst day of filming! Mike and I lived together during Season 1. Most of our stuff was together, so we carpooled and we would come home and work on the show. He became a really close friend of mine. For me personally, it was really difficult and I was not at all excited about the idea of me or Anastasia going through the apocalypse without Michael. For Addy as a character, think about it. She said her biggest fear was that she was going to have to do that and cut too, she had to do it.

Z Nation - Season 2

So, I love to be right more than anything in the world, but I was not trying to be right about this one! At the end of the day it’s love and these two really loved each other and she wasn’t going to leave him and she wasn’t going to kill him as Mack. There was a big thing about Addy letting him turn and that’s because she wasn’t killing Mack, that’s a different story, but she was going to give him mercy like she said she would.

Pop Culture Principle – Cassandra was also killed at the hands of 10K. Was her death necessary in the grand scheme of the series and why do you think Addy took it harder than the rest of the group?

Anastasia Baranova – Well you know, Addy is always emotional, let’s be honest. If you think about it, Cassandra went back for Addy and Addy went back for Cassandra. That definitely bonded those two and they had been together for a long time. Addy definitely with the "this is no longer the person we knew camp." It was even more weird for Addy because she wasn’t there with them for that whole thing and when she came back and all of a sudden, Cassandra is like this animal creature and didn’t know who Addy was.

Because other things were happening, we didn’t really get to address how a couple of us felt about where she was because we had to keep going with the story. That was something that Pisay and I talked about. We were hoping we got to at least throw a couple of looks or things that establish like this is weird and who are you, but at the same time, Addy could see what was going on with her.

As far as was it being a necessary thing. I do think that it was important because we need to understand what Murphy can do and ultimately is what he able to offer, does that make anything better or not. Ultimately what we are heading towards Is that he can make blends and he can control them. He kind of has the ultimate God power and knowing that at the end of the spectrum, there is Cassandra, who is literally like a drone and a step up from zombie and is that much better. So, in a way, her death is really critical to the story.

Pop Culture Principle – One thing that separates Z Nation from other similar shows is its use of comedy. How important has the comedic aspect been to the success of the series?

Anastasia Baranova – I think in three words, Z Nation is fun, action and drama. There is an emotional aspect to the show that people really care about. You are not just watching the show for the cheesy aspect or the candy because you care about these people. I like to say that we are a live action Scooby-Doo. I think that the comedy is a crucial aspect to the series and makes it a lot of fun.

I’m a big Walking Dead fan as well and what I am finding out that these shows don’t cancel each other out at all. In fact, it’s like dinner and desert. They are totally different, their purpose is different and they are meant to give you different stuff and I think they deliver on what they are supposed to do. I think they go together pretty well and balance each other out.

Pop Culture Principle – A lot of the series if filmed on location. As an actor, does that aspect help you get into character even more than say on a soundstage?

Anastasia Baranova – You know, just do acting. Sometimes you don’t have to be in the middle of a hot day being actually hot or on a cold day being actually cold. The environment obviously informs a lot of what’s going on, but honestly you can give somebody a paper clip and that can also inform you about the environment if you are that kind of actor. But, I will say being on location shooting can be a lot of fun.

Z Nation - Season 2

Pop Culture Principle – Why do you think there is such a fascination with zombies?

Anastasia Baranova – I tell ya, I think it’s because deep down, something like that would be utterly terrifying! The idea that the people you love turning into flesh eating monsters. It’s so absolutely horrifying but the way that the human brain is setup, we don’t judge things like that. It’s such a different reality and here I think it addresses a lot of our deep, deep fears. If push came to shove, would I survive? Who would I be? Because when you are watching these shows, you are instantly identifying with Daryl on The Walking Dead or Addy on Z Nation. I think that we want to know if things go super crazy, would I make it? Would I survive? Here you get to watch somebody play out all the different ways it can go.

Pop Culture Principle – Season 3 of Z Nation will start off with a 2-hour movie. What can you tell us about it?

Anastasia Baranova – I can tell you that it’s a chapter in the story of Z Nation, sort of like a lost file kind of thing. It introduces some people, good and bad, who we will then see back again throughout Season 3. I think it’s really cool and I think the fans are going to love it. People always get upset about how long it takes us to come back, but it’s really about the same time. People have been waiting so patiently for new stuff, this is going to be so cool because you get so much new material at once. We get a really cool bad guy and the way that he comes back is really cool.

Pop Culture Principle – Now that Addy has lost her favorite weapon, will she get another go to weapon in Season 3?

Anastasia Baranova – Well, I’ll tell you this much. I definitely don’t go out into the apocalypse with no weapon. So, does Addy have a weapon? Yes, she gets a weapon. What is it? You’ll have to find out. She’s not going out there fighting with just her bare knuckles.

Pop Culture Principle – We know Addy can handle herself in a zombie apocalypse, but how would Anastasia Baranova do in a zombie apocalypse?

Anastasia Baranova – She would make a graceful exit and not deal with any of that nonsense. The apocalypse would be awful and I am telling everybody right now it’s not worth it, don’t do it, just go back to the light and go play in the universe and be a star, a butterfly or whatever. I’m so serious, I’m in a pretend apocalypse and it’s not worth it. LOL!

Pop Culture Principle – What else can fans look forward to with the third season of Z Nation?

Anastasia Baranova – What we are doing this year that I think the fans are going to be really excited about is that we are going to be splitting the characters up. That will give us the opportunity to zero in and focus on them for an extended period of time. I feel like we’ve spent two years with these people and we have a sense of who these people are and what the whole thing is, so if you don’t see me for a couple of episodes, you will still care about Addy and what’s going on with her.

Doc and Addy go after baby Lucy which is really fun, I mean somebody had to do it right? Murphy is running amuck doing God knows what and thinking he’s the Grandmaster of the Universe. So, there is a lot for the fans to look forward to with Season 3 and I am so excited for everyone to watch.

We would like to thank Anastasia Baranova for taking time out of her busy schedule to talk with us. Don't forget, Friday, September 16th at 8/7c is the Season 3 premiere of ZNation only on Syfy. If you would like to keep up with all of Anastasia's latest news, projects and all her social media information, you can visit her official site here.

**All photos courtesy of Daniel Sawyer Schaefer/Go2 Z Ice/Syfy**

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